English Professor Draws Link Between Shakespearean Play and Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises

June 4th, 2014 by 

A popular question in Shakespearean studies today is whether or not Shakespeare grew up Catholic. And if he did, were there Catholic texts that influenced his writing?

These questions are of particular interest to Lee Oser, professor of English at the College of the Holy Cross, and the subject of an essay he authored that was recently published in Literary Imagination, a peer-reviewed journal published by Oxford University Press.

In the essay, “Imagination, Judgment, and Belief in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’” Oser draws a connection between a passage in The Spiritual Exercises (1548) of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, and a famous speech on imagination by Theseus in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Oser examines a specific passage in The Spiritual Exercises where Ignatius instructs retreatants to subject the length, breadth, and depth of Hell to the eyes of the imagination. Oser goes on to say that Shakespeare seizes on this implicit defense of imagination and makes that a question in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” through Theseus’ speech. This question asks whether imagination is something people should believe in, or whether it is a kind of gull, a deceiver, of the mind.

Oser’s essay builds on the work of scholars such as Garry Wills and Stephen Greenblatt, both Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, who have connected Shakespeare to Jesuit circles in England. It is this body of scholarship that supports Oser when he points to five specific areas in Theseus’ speech that very closely parallel Ignatius’ writings in The Spiritual Exercises.

When asked how he discovered the connection, Oser mentioned that he had Theseus’ speech fairly well memorized, but it was really because of his daily regimen of reading Latin that he was able to make the link between these two distinct texts.

The essay isn’t Oser’s only foray into Catholic literature. He brings a Catholic perspective to his second novel, “The Oracles Fell Silent,” which was released earlier this year. He spoke to Telegram & Gazette about the new book earlier this year.

| More
Tags
Categories
English, In The News, News

Comments are closed.

01/23/17 Latin American Artists Showcase Contemporary Work at Holy Cross’ Cantor Art Gallery
01/23/17 Sō Percussion Explores Gun Violence Through Multigenre Performance
01/20/17 English Professor to Premiere Off-Broadway Production
01/19/17 Political Perspective: Holy Cross Faculty Discuss Washington, D.C. March and Obama’s Presidency
See All
See All
Featured Videos

See video
Video: Former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins ’63 Honored as Helmerich Distinguished Author, Reads Poetry on NPR

Watch Video >
See video
Video, Photo Gallery: Holy Cross Wishes You a Merry Christmas

Watch Video >
See video
Video: Holy Cross History Professor Featured in PBS Pearl Harbor Documentary

Watch Video >
See video
Video: Two-Time Heisman Candidate Gordie Lockbaum ’88 Featured by ESPN in ‘30 for 30 Short’

Watch Video >
See video
Video: Holy Cross Students are ‘More Engaged’

Watch Video >
See video
Video: Take a Look at Campus Life After the Sun Sets

Watch Video >
See video
Photo Gallery, Video: Class of 2020 Receives A Holy Cross Welcome on Move-In Day

Watch Video >
See video
VIDEO: Stephen Colbert Talks Holy Cross in Web Exclusive

Watch Video >
See video
Video: Total Giving to Holy Cross Breaks Record With $46.7 Million Raised

Watch Video >
See video
Video: Spring Blooms on Holy Cross Campus

Watch Video >
More

Women's Forum Weekly Meeting
5/11/2017

See More >


MSO Advocate Program (Event canceled)
5/11/2017

See More >


AAC Luncheon
5/10/2017

See More >


Athletics
5/10/2017

See More >


Dean's Address
5/9/2017

See More >


Dean's Spring Address
5/9/2017

See More >


Summer Internship Send Off Meeting
5/9/2017

See More >


Summer Internship Send Off Meeting
5/8/2017

See More >


Cinco de Mayo
5/5/2017

See More >


Women's Forum Weekly Meeting
5/4/2017

See More >


Real Estate Club Meeting
5/4/2017
Edith Stein Hall 118C
Edith Stein Hall 118C: The main goal of the Real Estate Club will be to expose HC students to a broad... See More >


Summer Internship Send Off Meeting
5/4/2017

See More >


Dance Concert
5/3/2017
O'Kane Hall Fewick Theater
O'Kane Hall Fewick Theater: Our annual spring dance concert showcases vibrant work by the students in... See More >


Sexual Misconduct Policy Training
5/3/2017
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 519
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 519: Open to Campus Community OnlySee More >


Athletics
5/3/2017

See More >


The Agency Club Meetings
5/2/2017
Edith Stein Hall 118B
Edith Stein Hall 118B: The purpose of The Agency is to educate students who are interested in learning... See More >


Sales Club Meeting (Event canceled)
5/2/2017

See More >


Finance Club Meeting
5/2/2017

See More >


HCEG Club Meeting
5/2/2017

See More >

More Holy Cross in the News

01/19/17

Political Perspective: Holy Cross Faculty Discuss Washington, D.C. March and Obama’s Presidency

Telegram & Gazette

On the eve of the transfer of presidential power, Selina Gallo-Cruz, assistant professor of sociology, discusses the motivation behind Saturday’s March in Washington. And...

01/04/17

Holy Cross Young Alum Named Worcester Magazine’s “Person of the Year”

Worcester Magazine

Worcester Magazine has named Che Anderson ’11, project manager for the city of Worcester, as its “Person of the Year.” Anderson, who has immersed himself in Worcester...

12/22/16

Video: Former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins ’63 Honored as Helmerich Distinguished Author, Reads Poetry on NPR

NPR, Tulsa World

The Tulsa Library Trust presented Billy Collins ’63, former U.S. Poet Laureate, with the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award on Dec. 2 in recognition of...